Catching the stuffies at Three Friends Dog park.

Catching the stuffies at Three Friends Dog park.

Stuffy, furry, fluffy, pet hunt

Since the Three Friends Dog Park opened last summer it has been a tremendous success according to canines of the central Kenai Peninsula who have had a chance to run and meet new doggie friends for free ranging fun, thanks to the efforts of Connie Hawker and park supporters.

On March 24, the park held the first ever “Stuffy Hunt” under sunny skies with over 50 pets of all breeds and sizes participating. The challenge was for the dog to search out one of the many stuffed animals that were scattered through the park and then return it to a drop box and release the stuffy, scoring a point.

Getting off to an early lead was 9-year-old Willow Graham’s Labrador “Bridger.” According to Willow, 4-year-old Bridger had been trained as a search and rescue dog before coming to their family.

“Bridger enjoys attacking stuffed animals and tearing them up, so this is quite a fun day for him,” said Willow, anxious to send Bridger to hunt another stuffy. “For two years he trained as a search and rescue dog but he failed so he came to us. I haven’t taken any dog training classes but I just love him a lot and he listens to me.”

As Willow and Bridger raced off after another stuffy, her mom commented, “This has been very healthy for Willow’s physical state and emotional state and loving state, so we have really enjoyed having Bridger as part of our family.”

In the end Bridger racked up a total of 42 stuffies in the drop box for an outstanding win of the first ever Stuffy Hunt championship at Three Friends Dog Park. For his and Willow’s effort Bridger won a new dog bed, food and an assortment of doggie toys.

“Today was a great success for a great cause,” said Hawker. “We’re going to build a big cover over the entry to the park so we won’t have any more frozen gates. We’re pretty excited with all the community support for the park.”

According to Hawker the event raised $764 with $190 being donated to the Peninsula Spay/Neuter fund.

“I’d like to thank Walmart, Petco, Three Bears, Cadre Feed and Save-U-More for donating the amazing prizes,” she said.

There was also a balloon pop where if a dog popped a balloon they won a prize.

“Some of the larger dogs were a little shy, but then a little guy got the idea and started popping them like crazy.”

The 3 Friends Dog Park has plans for the future says Hawker.

“Once the cover is installed we’re going to put in some agility equipment at the park that we can all enjoy. Then we have plans for other activities in the park like ugly sweater contests for Christmas and other costume events for Halloween and look for us in the parade this year and of course the park is open every day to get to know your community and other dog lovers.”

For more information about Three Friends Dog Park, call Connie Hawker at 398-3001.

To please his 9-year-old trainer Bridger drops the stuffy.

To please his 9-year-old trainer Bridger drops the stuffy.

Bridger marks up another stuffy drop and takes the lead.

Bridger marks up another stuffy drop and takes the lead.

“OK, here’s the plan you get the big ones I’ll take the little stuffies.”

“OK, here’s the plan you get the big ones I’ll take the little stuffies.”

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